Guest Essay by Virginia Cooper
Decisions to Make Before You Start a Business
When you’re not yet an entrepreneur but know that’s the path you’re headed down, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices you have to make. But, there are a few that you can prioritize that will help the other decisions fall into place. Today on Social Thinking, we will look at how to evaluate your skills, choose a business structure, decide on a marketing platform, and understand your assets.
What Should I Do?
This is one of the first questions that aspiring entrepreneurs must ask themselves. Unfortunately, there is no singular answer that applies to everyone. The best possible advice anyone can give is to start by evaluating your skills and passions. For example, if you’re a great artist and love to paint, you might consider starting a mural business, where you can expect to make an average of around $46,000 per year.
Next, decide on a business structure. For many small businesses, a sole proprietorship or LLC makes sense. However, if you think you might grow enough to have up to 100 shareholders, an S corporation can help you save on your taxes and work to establish credibility should you take on large projects. Rules are different from state to state, but you can use an online formation service that’s already done the homework for you.
According to RevLocal, most small businesses can get away with spending between 3% and 5% of their annual revenue on marketing. But, how do you know which marketing avenues and platforms are best for you? Like deciding what to do, there’s no one answer that makes sense for everyone. However, something that all businesses should focus on is their brand.
Branding and rebranding help to establish your product, showcase its best benefits, and helps you capture a greater share of the market. Your brand is how other people instantly recognize you versus the competition. For many small businesses, this starts with a logo and other visual materials. But you also should not count out your people and processes, which are powerful branding tools that businesses tend to overlook.=
Now’s a great time to segue into the idea of budgeting for your business since branding and hiring and retaining the right employees take money. A couple of tips here include doing some of the work yourself and being selective in your hiring practices. For example, if you are not a graphic designer, you can find low-cost tools to make appealing and creative custom logos. You’ll start with the basic icon and then make adjustments, such as adding text or changing the color, until you get an image that fits your business’s personality.
When it comes down to hiring employees, know that you will pay more for top talent. But also keep in mind that the better you treat your employees, the better they will treat your customers, meaning that a good staff is an investment well worth having. To choose the best employees, accounting and HR services firm LBMC suggests putting some effort into defining your job description. Although jobs can adjust and change as your business grows, you should set your expectations early so that there are no unpleasant surprises.
No matter where you live, there are gaps in the market that have to be filled. Starting your own business is a great way to earn an income and create financial freedom for yourself. The above is not a comprehensive guide on how to get started, but the decisions we’ve guided you through will make it possible for other things to fall into place when and where you need them to.